sexuality, masculinity, love
written by Trevor Olson
a time-tested antidote for Shy Bladder.
So some of you were wondering: if shy bladder is an expression of an insecure sexuality, what should be done about it?
My answer, and the subject of today’s blog, is that a good, personal sense of masculinity is an antidote to a lot of shy bladder in men, and much more. I decided to piece out the thought into three, smaller installments so as not to wear you all out. If you wanted to hear a few bite-sized reflections about masculinity, you’ve come to the right place.
So let’s talk about sexuality. For men the particular kind of sexuality we have is a masculine one – masculinity. It’s the simplest way to talk about a man. It’s one of the deepest ways to talk about a man. It is the foundational part of our identity.
The church at times has said wonderful things about masculinity. Henry Nouwen reminds us a man’s sexuality is expressed in his family and friendships AND his sexual relationships. Leanne Payne’s characterization of men’s masculine strength and initiative and ordering of life reads like a half-time locker room speech. The Word tells us about Joseph and Moses and Caleb and David & Jonathan and Uriah and Boaz and Nehemiah and Hosea and Ananias and the centurion and Barnabas and Jesus. This masculinity is much broader than the sexual act. A fully crowned sexuality is when the man has become what God has intended him to be.
Sexuality for both men and women, as a woman I used to work with tells people, is a gift of creation and connection. It is creative and connective, naturally, and normally. If you buy into this kind of sexuality, you’re moving past societies’ and much of the church’s concept of sexuality in all kinds of wonderful ways. Male creativity: powerful, life-giving creativity, is no longer limited to the sexual act. Nor to connection. The currently truncated concept of male intimacy just got as big as it was small.
You’ll notice we’re not talking about swollen biceps or big-time paychecks, or being desired by beautiful women, although there’s nothing inherently wrong with any of that. A man’s sexuality is not just his capacity to get and be able to have sex – it’s better than that. The finished picture of male sexuality is the capacity to give and receive love, and in particular, the love of Christ. One wonderful thing about true masculinity is that it is frankly Godly. The best masculinity is the one most like His. Here I hope too it’s possible to see out of our society’s labyrinth of the confusion we call sexuality. Our culture now has sexuality as a predominately physical, self-determined, unproblematic, painless, more and more loveless, mechanical, sometimes even low-key role-player in self-actualization.
I know and have worked with enough people now to know nothing could be further from what masculinity actually is. Modern sexuality fails most basically I think because it has not made good on anything it has promised. What we see now is an entirely unsuccessful rebellion against a lovelier way of life.
Really, I think though we are now beyond failure and into some sort of an implosion. People get on Tinder to have sex to get a meal; they can afford the meal but would rather pay for it this way. The sense of so many good things in someone who chooses this freely has extinguished. Pornography, the desecrator of men’s souls, and by association, women’s souls, is socially acceptable in the younger generation. Fathers are now two or three, or more, generations removed from intact families. Their sons struggle along with the tidbits of affirmation and purpose that have been imparted to them. Male friendship of the mind and heart I think is at an all time low. The normal guy in my generation, 25-40, has little or no idea what he would say to the question: who are you. The most common thing I have heard when I ask men this question is: I don’t know. The most common response to this baseline question about oneself is of crisis.
The growing implosion of our sexual practice bears out in almost all of our lives, almost every day. While a Christ-centered sexuality grows and develops and matures and gathers glory over time, our societies preferred sexuality continues to devolve, and unwind and disintegrate and fade away. Many men in my generation and below are going to be hard pressed when old age finds them. There is no reason to assume the golden years for them will be golden. The light and what it illuminates will be harsh and often I think sexuality will have played a starring role.
Now here’s a time for good word to come in and play its part if there ever was one! As bad as the bad news is, it is not worth comparing to the good news of who Jesus is and what he does in men's lives. We have a 'better presence and an abiding one.'
But Trevor: you still have not said much about what masculinity is. Okay - my concept is: masculinity is the ‘glad assumption of responsibility’. The ‘glad assumption of responsibility’ was the watchword for evaluating oneself in the recovery community where while working I came to have a personal experience of masculinity. In Christ it is being oriented to the other’s best – the giving and receiving of His love. ‘Agape’ is sometimes translated: being oriented to another’s best. The glad assumption of responsibility you might say is a masculine expression of obedience to the New Commandment.
I’ll pick up this thread up here in a few weeks to talk more about what gladly assuming responsibility for another’s best is and why it’s worth men organizing their lives around it.